By Emily Orman, Sports Editor
In 7 years, 86 days, 12 hours, 13 minutes, 20 seconds, the world’s new “climate clock” will hit zero. That’s how much time we have left until Earth’s doomsday: the day in which climate change becomes irreversible.
On September 17th, the famous Metronome clock in New York City began to flash a new message, far more daunting than the typical countdown to midnight on new years eve. Presenting the words, “Earth has a deadline,” the Metronome clock is drawing public attention to the inevitable causes of climate change and the tumultuous times that lay ahead. For those less educated on the specifics of current day climate change, this monument might not seem significant. Let me break it down for you.
Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing all around the world thanks to factories, fracking, lack of renewable energy sources and overuse of fossil fuels. Under these conditions, the climate and atmosphere are unable to adapt sufficiently. In seven years, the climate will be at a breaking point; although the world won’t miraculously end, the ability to reverse global warming will. According to EPA’s analysis, our greenhouse gas emissions have risen 3.7 percent since 1990, which although may seem like a small statistic, makes a big difference over time.
The climate clock, aside from raising awareness that we must take action now to make a lasting change, also represents the time until our carbon budget is used up. In seven years, Earth will be 1.5℃ hotter than it was before industrialization and the number of heatwaves, fires, droughts and flooding will soar. This past summer, a record five million acres of forest burned across the West Coast, leaving towns that weren’t on fire choking on dangerous smoke fumes and ash. If action is not taken appropriatly, patterns like disasterous fires will continue to become more and more devastating.
Although it is important for each person to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint, making a lasting change falls in the hands of the government. In some cases, that means change at the local level.
“We each have a role to play in reducing carbon emissions, and local actions can make a big difference,” said Gena Goodman, Bend City Councilor and a climate change activist pushing for climate regulation. “At the same time, we need change at the systemic level if we are going to avoid a total climate crisis. Individuals can take action by demanding that their leaders take bold actions like those outlined in the Green New Deal.”
In Bend, a town known for the nature surrounding it, taking action on the local level is crucial to maintain the pristine mountains and lakes which we all cherish. While members of the Bend community tend to be relatively aware of their carbon footprint, there is still a lot of work to be done if we want to do our part to slow the countdown.
Although Bend is environmentally conscious in general, there are a few actions that we do unconsciously that harm the climate. In communities like Madras, the lack of water produced by both the droughts this summer and the overuse of water in general caused farmland and crops to die, impacting lives and the economy. Limited water for irrigation is cutting off for farms, leaving soil for erosion and less plant growth.
Another climate activist in the Bend community is Neil Baunsgaurd, an employee at the Bend Environmental Center works to find more sustainable energy sources for transportation and life in general. He hopes to find a way to make school busses electric in order to reduce fossil fuel emissions and install solar panels to take over the energy needs of schools.
The Bend Community Climate Action Plan that stretches from 2020 to 2025 has made it a goal “to reduce fossil fuel use community wide by 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050.” Evidence of the destructive fires this past summer have proved Oregon is anything but immune to global warming.
For those who want to do their part to help the environment, you must first find out what parts of your lives are leaving behind an unnecessary carbon footprint.
“It’s hard to fix something (your carbon footprint) if you don’t know what it is in the first place,” Baunsgaurd said. “We can take collective action and work together to create policies, which will bring us closer to a solution than individual work.”
Making a lasting change clearly falls at the hand of the system, with policies like the Green New Deal and the Bend Community Action Plan. However, individuals can make change within their community as well. Climate change activist Gena Goodman and Storm student Kat Chotechuang have made alterations in their individual lives to do their part.
“Biking when you can, turning off the car when you’re parked, eating less meat, conserving energy around the house and supporting environmentally friendly brands are all small steps that when combined, benefit our planet,” Kat Chotechuang said.
However, for those viewing climate change from the outside, it’s easy to blame the government. Chotechuang, who has become a leader of the environmental club, “Roots and Shoots,” at Summit, has an idea for what she would do if she were in control of the systemic change to be made.
“I would work to educate everyone on the severity and importance on changing how the world runs for the sake of the planet. Working up from that, I would hold companies accountable and work towards getting rid of all the ways we contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and just push the urgency of it as resolving climate change is a long process, and we don’t have that much time,” Chotechuang said.
Finding a way to sacrifice small things in your everyday life that are harmful to the planet is only one method of helping resolve climate change. It is certainly possible for everyone to go plant-based and ride their bikes instead of driving. Nevertheless, the true solution for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions is decreasing fossil fuel use in companies and restructuring society to be less dependent on these harmful gasses.
Until the government makes moves to systematically alter society, individuals should continue to do their part by being conscious and raising awareness for the planet. Taking immediate action is something that heavily relies on the upcoming election; regardless of your political views, Biden seems to have a plan to rejoin the global fight and pass the Green New Deal, whereas Trump is more keen to preserve the existing economy and energy sources, such as those derived from oil and coal..
“The question shouldn’t be ‘do you believe in climate change?’ It’s not a debate, it’s a scientific consensus,” said Neil Baunsgard, Bend Environmental Center employee. Afterall, there is no planet B.